More than 75,000 shoebox outreach events take place in over 100 countries each year. We know each shoebox is packed with generosity and love. Our aim is to relay that message to every child who receives one, in a safe well-organised setting. Here’s how we work throughout the year to ensure that happens.
Long before we all pack shoeboxes and our volunteers check and load them on lorries for export, our National Leadership Teams around the world train local Ministry Partners in how to run safe well-organised outreach events. The National Leadership Teams are made up of committed volunteers who themselves receive support and training, and are resident in the countries that receive shoebox gifts. Ministry Partners are usually local Christians – often church and community leaders – who work for, or have commitments to, other groups or organisations. Once they’ve received training from our National Leadership Teams, they may carry out shoebox distributions on behalf of Operation Christmas Child.
The training given to Ministry Partners covers an extensive range of topics, from establishing the importance of reaching out to children and the mission of Operation Christmas Child, through to making the practical arrangements for an outreach event. These range from planning appropriate volunteer support on the day, to making sure the right number of shoeboxes are available for the children who attend. Training materials are provided by Operation Christmas Child, and are funded by your project donation.
The Outreach Event
Each December, thousands of ministry partners around the world distribute shoebox gifts at festive outreach events in their local communities. These events will usually include a presentation of the good news of new life and hope in Jesus, and children will be told about the love of the person who sent the gift, as well as about God’s unconditional love for them.
Alongside their shoebox gift, children are offered a Bible story booklet called The Greatest Gift, which tells them the story of God’s greatest gift; His son Jesus. Children who are old enough to read, and living in communities where the local culture allows it, are then invited to attend The Greatest Journey.
From our Ministry Partners
‘The training is equipping us as teachers and the Ministry Partner guide shows us how to prepare well… It also creates a passion in us to teach, which is really important as a volunteer as our passion shows through all that we do… I like to keep learning and growing and the training helps me to better understand children. When we co-ordinate an event we have a clear set of instructions as to how to prepare well, and then I feel equipped and ready.’
Raphael, Zimbabwe Ministry Partner, Harare provinces.
‘The resources help us to be focused on how we teach and to follow a plan. Thankyou for being here and giving us direction on how to teach our children.’
Sherry Kativhu, Superintendent of the Presbyterian Church, Harare provinces
‘Through this project, we bring not just joy to the children, but we also bring them hope. We bring them faith, and a future. The resources Operation Christmas Child offer to the church are so helpful. They are necessary tools in order to share God’s love with the whole community.’
Jon Groza, National Leadership Team volunteer, Moldova.